Cairo is a city of incongruities! The Nile, the Sahara Desert, Pyramids, the Sphinx (half man, half lion), high rises and buried cities. This massive city embraces it’s ancient customs yet craves advancement in modernity.
I arrived via Egyptair from Jordan thinking that I would have 3 days in Cairo. This was a total plan fail! I arrived in the evening and had to leave the hotel at midnight my last night there. I had 2 full days to see what I could so, through my awesome hotel manager, I hired a driver to take me to Giza to experience the Pyramids and Sphinx.
Driving to Giza, I began to see how huge this city of Cairo was! My driver was wonderful, stopping to allow me to take photos of the Nile as we crossed it and giving me a history lesson as we went. As we drove, I saw heavy smog hanging over both the ancient and the new Cairo and the amount of trash littering the highway was appalling! I finally asked my driver if there were street cleaners and, as he threw his soda cup out of the car window, he said yes.
When going to Cairo, be prepared for the salesmen! I bought a ghutra, oil, papyrus art, and paid probably too much for a camel and my Giza tour. I tried to decline but not only were they persistent but I felt for their situation. Tourism is down due to terrorist threats so income for them is as well. Also, if you are there in the summer, be prepared for the heat!! It IS the desert, after all!
I requested my same driver to take me to a dinner cruise down the Nile. It was a fun night and part of the fun was watching how happy and important he felt accompanying me! The food was okay, the entertainment was better! It started with a band, then a belly dancer and moved to Tounura dancers, an Egyptian folk dance. It was actually a lot of fun!
The next day, I walked around downtown Cairo and the Egyptian Museum. I’m not much of a museum person anymore as I’ve been to so many of them. They tend to bore me now. This was no exception. I had decided to go because…well, it holds the world’s largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities. Where else are you going to find Pharaohs?
I couldn’t believe the seeming disorganization! Unopened crates shoved into corners or just left where they would possibly later be opened. Dust on anything that wasn’t a tourist draw. Children played chase, running unattended throughout this place of history! I decided that maybe the attendants were so used to antiquities, in the museum and out of it, that it was like home.
Though my friends questioned my safety in going to Egypt, I had no fear before or after arriving. The people of Cairo that I encountered were all very welcoming and happy that I was there. Tourism is down so that was part of it but the people of Cairo that I encountered are good, giving, and decent human beings! Except for thinking I was going to die from the heat, I enjoyed my short time in Cairo!